Trams row inspires 88-year-old’s first novel

James Hall is excited by prospect of his novel being published. Picture: Jon Savage
James Hall is excited by prospect of his novel being published. Picture: Jon Savage
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Many aspiring JK Rowlings believe they have a novel in them but never get round to putting pen to paper.

However, one debutant novelist from the city has accomplished what most people fail to and is about to see his work published in print . . . at the age of 88.

Grandfather-of-seven James Hall, from Colinton, was inspired to pen his work after becoming increasingly exasperated with local and national government scandals such as the trams project and the Scottish Parliament overspend on Holyrood.

Now the former Post Office manager’s novel, My Resignation, is to be published by leading London publisher Austin Macauley tomorrow.

James, a prolific writer of letters to national newspapers, said: “Every now and then over the years I’ve thought about writing a book but it was only three years ago that I got around to it.

“It’s a great legacy to leave behind. At this moment in time I’m quite excited about it all. I’ve kept it all quite quiet from friends but those who have read the book have said it’s not a bad story.”

The book’s protagonist is a former senior manager in a government-run organisation who, following his compulsory retirement at 60, quickly finds himself angered at changes being made in his old firm. Driven to despair, he decides to seek a seat in the new Scottish Parliament. He fails, but his efforts do not go unnoticed, attracting the attention of a rich benefactor who then backs him to a Westminster election win.

After a whirlwind journey, he eventually becomes prime minister.

James, a former rugby referee, added: “I am now in my eighties, but, happily still in reasonably good health. Much of the plot mirrors my experiences. I was indeed a senior manager in the Post Office business. When I retired a lot of problems were growing.”

But why the delay? James admits the creative juices took time to start flowing.

He added: “I had two serious operations in 2000 and 2002, which slowed me down for a spell, and my golf suffered for several years, indeed, fatally. Then came the idea of a book and that has taken some time to mature.”

With the average age of debut novelists sitting around 40, Kat Parr, of Austin Macauley, said mature writers often bring good life experience to texts.

She added: “My Resignation is an insightful and enjoyably clever work that reads all the richer for the author’s experiences.

“It may be a cliché to say ‘write what you know’, but there are few authors who write better than those who have a full life to draw on for inspiration; at 88 years old, this is certainly something to which James – and his book – are a testament.”

The book costs £5.99.